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Finding Peggy

It’s been a wonderful week of birthdays. Bob’s August birthday is the day before the Bug’s, so we’ve been celebrating for four days straight. On Wednesday we had dinner at Rolf and Daughters in Germantown and it was quite delicious.  

Thursday was pre-K cupcakes and today was the actual 4 year old pirate princess party, complete with eye patches!

Everyone arrived during a thunderstorm, so the gold doubloons in the sand ship had to be moved to the front porch. And luckily, the bounce house just fit in the playroom. But we started our day at the Farmer’s Market, and I was delighted to find…

Peggy, the Parnassus Bookmobile parked right next to the food trucks! Have I told you lately how much I love Nashville? Of course I had to pre-order Ann Patchett’s new book, “Commonwealth.” 

But the biggest surprise of all, was when Uncle Dave arrived from LA just before we sang Happy Birthday and cut the pink and black pirate cake; the Love Bug’s face was pure unadulterated joy! I’m glad I didn’t have my phone to snap a picture, because I loved simply experiencing that precious moment. 

Tonight we played at being a scientist. One of the birthday gifts was a beginner microscope, so the Groom went outside and found a snail for us to investigate – after our tea party of course. 

BTW, have I mentioned Princess Awesome dresses for girls who don’t exactly need to be rescued?  http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6654034

My pirate princess is sleeping sweetly, and I’m about to turn in – it’s been a whirlwind week in the Music City. Finding Peggy was the icing on the cake of my daughter’s new home and my grand daughter’s birthday. 

Having my two adult children together? Priceless.   

Lately, we’ve been decluttering. It started with finishing the basement, and ended with a total reboot of nearly every room in the house. Because so many ceilings had to be patched and repaired, we wanted to banish the plaster dust from our lives forever. 

But here’s the problem, and many of my friends know about this little hiccup, out of all the things we’ve collected over the years, our kids probably want less than 1%. Which is why I enjoyed reading “Stuff of Nightmares” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner in the NYTimes Magazine. It was all about the joy of decluttering and the current craze led by Marie Kondo. 

She compares this Japanese Kondo approach to the standard American National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) approach. It was hysterical and sobering all at the same time. 

Kondo wants us to pick every single thing up and if it doesn’t fill us with joy say goodbye to it and find it another home. The NAPO way is full of excuses. We can take our time, we can buy organizational things, we can maybe even get some therapy? 

Some people stay in one place forever and would never think of getting rid of anything. And some of us are married to nomads. If we stay in one place longer than a decade we start to get twitchy. You know where I fall on this spectrum, I’d rather stay in one place – but I married a nomad. 

And we are currently tidying up in anticipation of the next move. So who wants the French cupboard? What should I do with all my books and papers? How many pairs of red shoes do I really need? What I wouldn’t give to have Marie Kondo come into my home for a day, or two weeks. 

But this week I am celebrating the Love Bug’s 4th Birthday. How can that be? She is more precious, more scrumptious, than ever before. Four is a magical age, she has started pre-K and soon she will be playing soccer and before you know it, she’ll be driving a car!!

It’s all too much to comprehend. So I’m keeping her Mother’s field hockey jacket. And the candy striper uniform the Bride wore and said she would never work in a hospital. Because the Bug might want them someday. Right? 

What a week! The floodwaters in Louisiana are humbling, and the wildfires so close to the Rocker and Ms Cait are frightening – but the lies, the lies in Rio are just plain weird.

Why would Ryan Lochte tell Billy Bush he was held up at gunpoint if it didn’t really happen? Inquiring minds really want to know. Lochte has returned to North Carolina, leaving his fellow swimmers to face the music; a move I always warned my children against, leave no one behind:

The three U.S. Olympic swimmers (Bentz, Conger and Feigen) are cooperating with authorities and in the process of scheduling a time and place today to provide further statements to the Brazilian authorities,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement Thursday. “All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the U.S. Consulate in Rio.”

The ongoing incident has presented an unwelcome distraction for organizers of the troubled Summer Olympics, already beset by issues with logistics, venues and security. The closing ceremony for the Games is Sunday.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/olympics/la-sp-oly-rio-2016-three-of-ryan-lochte-s-u-s-swimming-1471525979-htmlstory.html

I have an idea. And it’s not “boys will be boys,” or some other such nonsense. What if it really happened? Or maybe, they were a bit tipsy, which in those circumstances would be normal, and they had a little too much fun in a gas station restroom, and one thing lead to another, and all of a sudden their high jinks looked strangely real when a gun was pulled out in the wee small hours of the morning. What were they to think?

But why is this “Breaking News?” There is a child sitting in an emergency room in Syria. Battered and bloodied. This should be Breaking News…

Russia is flying planes out of Iran to bomb Aleppo…the same way we flew out of England to bomb Libya. Yes, I was sitting in the upper part of a London bus when the news was announced about Reagan and the Iron Lady in 1986…I had no idea what it meant. I had accompanied Bob on an international conference of catastrophe physicians (Emergency Medicine Physicians) – but I knew the Brits were very unhappy with us. We were simultaneously trumpeted into dinner in the Great Hall, and snickered at behind our backs.

Do you think the Iranians hate the Russians for using their airspace and airfields?

Can we ever step away from war?

I have nothing against Russia. If Russia would like to see Trump win our election, what would that mean? If we could actually unite with Russia, and Iran and stop the bloodshed in Syria maybe we could stem the tide of terrorist recruitment in Europe, and make our own country safer…I just wish Putin saw the potential in Hillary. Maybe he does, but we are not allowed to know. How many lies must we hear, before this election?

Is Trump the Manchurian Candidate of the 21st Century? I prefer to think the Cold War is over. The Mideast may not be ready for democracy today, but for a little while, maybe it’s ready for a cease fire? Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemen. People are dying. I keep waiting to pull the curtain back, to see who is really controlling our international policy. I am waiting for someone, anyone, to speak the truth.

Children cannot continue to be the pawns of war.        screen-shot-2016-08-17-at-6-03-03-pm

 

Victory Gardens

My favorite living author, who also happens to own a bookstore in Nashville, asked her readers what the title of their autobiography might be; “What would be the title of your life story?” The graphic on Parnassus’ Instagram account was a cartoony book titled “Can I Get Extra Cheese On That, a Memoir.”

Now I have nothing against cheese, in fact a day without cheese is like a day without a squeeze! But since that title was taken, I thought for maybe a split second and wrote “Victory Gardens.” That title means so much to me, and I realize it probably makes you think of the push to grow our own food after WWII, if you are of a certain age. But if my foster parents hadn’t scooped me up in Scranton at ten months of age and planted me in Victory Gardens, I might have been heading for an orphanage.

In that tiny, four room cement house, in the “temporary” development built to support the war effort at Picatinny Arsenal, I was surrounded by enough unconditional love to grow  strong. You remember the ice cream truck, and the doll house Daddy Jim built from the ice cream sticks; my trips to town and free samples of everything, especially bologna at the butcher shop.

Yesterday I listened to NPR’s Fresh Air in the car and I was rooted to my seat. I couldn’t leave the car and face the oppressive 96 degree heat – plus the topic spoke to me. Two culinary historians were promoting their book about food during the Great Depression. The authors were talking about their grandparents, but we Boomers grew up with parents who lived through this period, so our childhood kitchen tables reflected that period of time perfectly. And don’t forget, I had two mothers.

In Victory Gardens, Nell would proudly tell anyone within earshot that she was really good at opening cans, then her face would light up like a Christmas tree at her own joke! I remember dinners that consisted of canned hash with a fried egg on top. A vegetable side would mean a sliced tomato. Frozen foods were a novelty, so in this Catholic house we ate frozen fish sticks on Fridays. One day a week we ate out at the diner. And for a very special occasion she might make her specialty, stuffed cabbage, a Slovakian miracle simmering in sauerkraut.

But the Flapper, in her old Queen Ann house in town, would cook! She simmered meatballs in sauce she made herself, and even though she was working ever day she managed to get a delicious hot meal on the table every night. She taught me how to shop for the freshest ingredients by season, and how to save a few pennies here and there. Of course I’ve told you about her Depression-era Mac n Cheese, the kind with bacon because they could not get real butter. One of both Moms’ favorite stories was how as a young child I could tell the difference between butter and margarine. Later I learned they had to put yellow food coloring in a Crisco-like substance in the 30s to approximate butter. And ps, I have never purchased margarine in my life!

So while listening to “Creamed Canned and Frozen” yesterday, one author spoke about  bologna and mashed potato dinners. I had to smile since bologna was a staple at my cement house too. With the Flapper we made delicious ham sandwiches on rye bread with real dill pickles we picked from a barrel.

But the funniest thing the authors Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe said was their children would not eat the food they were preparing during the writing of this book, since it didn’t look like food to them! And thinking back, canned hash does look like something maybe the dog didn’t like…http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/15/489991111/creamed-canned-and-frozen-how-the-great-depression-changed-u-s-dietsta The Flapper, however, cooked creatively with spices, and spicy food believe it or not was deemed suspicious in the 30s.

Spicy foods were [considered] stimulants. They were classified as stimulants, so they were on that same continuum along with caffeine and alcohol all the way up to cocaine and heroin. And if you started with an olive, you might find yourself one day addicted to opiates. It put you on a very slippery slope — watch out for olives!

Today we are asked to learn where and how our fish were harvested, what the cows have been eating before we buy a steak, and how sustainable is the farm growing our produce. Would the Flapper pay more for organic milk, like I do? It’s a wonder panic doesn’t set in the moment we think about getting a meal on the table! I wonder how or IF the Love Bug will cook, maybe she’ll use a replicator a la Star Trek? I remember how she turned her nose up at the first chicken nugget I offered her, after all, it doesn’t look like chicken!

So even though I grew up in a bland house that referenced a garden without an actual garden, where a tinned tuna casserole made with soup was considered nutritious, I managed to become a fairly inventive home cook imho thanks to the Flapper. And the real victory was when the Bride asked for all my recipes when she was setting up her own kitchen after college.

While Lee and Al were visiting I made stuffed eggplant; a recipe I made up as I went along, sauteing garlic and mushrooms, mixing with the eggplant, and of course baking with cheese sprinkled on top! This was right before they went in the oven, Bon Appetit!  IMG_4981

Olympic Heights

Are you watching? Do you gloat when Lilly wags her finger at that Russian swimmer who has been accused of doping in the past? In and around the Olympic pool, shaming a competitor is allowed. Go ahead and try to hack into our emails Moscow, we’ll show you a thing or two when the games finish up and the medals are counted!

Do you cringe when the bicycles crash? What about archery, or volleyball on the beach, in bikinis? My all time favorite is diving – guys, girls synchronized pairs, or alone. How in the world do they enter the water with a tiny ripple after somersaulting like birds in the sky?

I’ve been reminded that in 1972 the world experienced a seismic shift for women when Title IX was passed into law in our country. Sen Birch Bayh of Indiana said this on the floor of the Senate:

“We are all familiar with the stereotype of women as pretty things who go to college to find a husband, go on to graduate school because they want a more interesting husband, and finally marry, have children, and never work again. The desire of many schools not to waste a ‘man’s place’ on a woman stems from such stereotyped notions. But the facts absolutely contradict these myths about the ‘weaker sex’ and it is time to change our operating assumptions.”

Title IX was too late for me. Graduating from high school in 1966 – yes our 50th reunion is coming right up – my class was on the cusp of the feminist movement. My friend Lee is ten years younger, yet she experienced discrimination in law school, one of very few women. You had to be tough in those days to last, like Hillary!

At my girls camp every summer I had racked up athletic prizes. Basketball was my favorite, and I was the one lone player, the “roving” one, allowed to run the full length of the court because they didn’t think girls could play like the boys. There was no future for me in sports however. In high school I was always trying out for plays, the drama department had stolen my heart. I had compartmentalized any talent I thought I had, not consciously, but summers were for sports. Sure some girls played after school, but I returned to the “real” world, where the Flapper had to work and so I had to take the bus home every day.

I thought about dance, ballet had been a big part of my life. The one time I performed that wasn’t part of a musical on stage, was in the gym as part of the Girl’s Athletic Association annual award ceremony. I didn’t get a medal of course, but I did choreograph and dance an interpretive number to “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Flower Drum Song. One PE teacher took pity on me, and encouraged me. Looking back, it seems ironic:

I adore being dressed in something frilly
When my date comes to get me at my place
Out I go with my Joe or John or Billy
Like a filly who is ready for the race

When I have a brand new hairdo
With my eyelashes all in curls
I float as the clouds on air do
I enjoy being a girl

I actually hate frilly. Moving on to my first year in college saw my first knee injury on a ski slope. Sitting on a chair at a law school mixer in a full leg cast, my first husband approached me. I should have known something was up; he didn’t dance himself. Washed up as a dancer, my dreams of being a super star on Broadway, a hoofer, were stalled.

So I did what every girl my age did, got married. The point is, we women of the late 60s couldn’t even dream of being super star athletes. Not then.

Today the “Final Five” USA Women gymnasts are super heroes, inspiring a whole new diverse generation of girls. And most importantly, all the women in Rio grew up with equal opportunities – Title IX was entrenched – whatever money went toward boy’s sports in public schools, had to be allocated to the girls too. In archery, tennis, golf, rowing, basketball, softball and of course swimming and diving.

Even though times they have changed, the media coverage of women in elite positions on the world stage hasn’t very much. I thought this was a provocative article – a little “sarcasm” if you will. Imagine covering a man the way some broadcasters talk about women. Maybe the world of male commentators thinks we are still waiting for our Joe or John or Billy?  It’s a good laugh if it doesn’t make you cry. “Congrats girl! Fiancé of former Miss California scoops his 25th medal” http://thetab.com/uk/2016/08/10/congrats-girl-fiance-former-miss-california-scoops-25th-gold-medal-13873     IMG_3652

 

Let’s take a break from the sturm and drang of politics shall we? Do people ask you where you would most like to live if you had nothing else to consider in the world? Let’s just say you won the Lottery and you have no grandchildren. No ties to any coast at all. Which is not my case, but this is a hypothetical.

Well this week I’ve been reminded of my favorite place because our dear friends came from the Berkshires for a visit. When the Bride was little, we would pack up our cars and take the ferry from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard for a whole month every Spring. Lee is probably my bestest friend, a wild and wonderful woman! She was an Ass’t DA when we first met, at a ballet class, and then opened a private practice in family law. She went to the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Princeton, so we would kid around and say we went to different schools together.

At the Rocker’s Bris in August of 1984, she singlehandedly filled my living room with tall, glorious gladiolas!

Her husband Al is retired and Lee is starting to think about retirement too, though she is a bit younger. And they were smart years ago to buy an investment property in Vineyard Haven; although we always rented a cottage on the wild side of Gay Head, a place that dropped off red clay cliffs to a rocky shore and held center stage in my dreams for many years.

This is the place where I imprinted ruggedly beautiful seascapes and rambling rose bushes on the Bride’s baby brain. We would dig up clams on Menemsha Pond in Chilmark and eat them slathered in butter. Lee would bake bread every morning, then we would visit the fish market to plan our dinner. We would ride on the historic Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs, an old and established Black community on the island. The Bride would reach to catch the brass ring, and our dogs would want to jump up and catch it too.

We flew on clam shell roads with the wind in our hair, our bikes with fat tires, taking showers outside that could never entirely wash away the sand.

So yes, there is no other place I love more than The Vineyard! And our President is taking his last vacay there as Commander in Chief.

On the island, Mr. Obama is expected to play a lot of golf and read a pile of books, if his past vacations here are any guide. He may attend a party or two given by friends who also vacation here, but for the most part the Obamas tend to keep to themselves. Mr. Obama is an avid sports fan, and with the Olympics playing on TV, he may have even more reason to remain in his rented house. After so many years of having the president and his family as summer guests, residents here have lost much of the excitement they once showed for presidential visits. The island is a haven for moguls and movie stars, and the Obamas have become part of the scenery.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/us/politics/obama-arrives-in-marthas-vineyard-for-two-week-vacation.html?_r=0

I’m sure he can relax this August, knowing the lead Madame Secretary has secured in the race to the White House; knowing his legacy will be assured. Jobs numbers are good, the market seems to be progressing. Maybe he will play some golf and eat a few lobster rolls? Walk into town for some ice cream?

Sometimes I would run into Carly Simon in town and pretend I didn’t know who she was…because that’s what people did before cell phones and selfies. I hope people leave the Obamas alone. I hope they can actually find a little peace on this island paradise. I’d like to turn off all the political punditry for the next few months.

Cause I haven’t got time for the pain…  this was us in 1981. Menemsha Family 20160808

 

 

If you’re one of those people who believe words truly have meaning, if you are a “wordsmith” like me, you have got to be shaking your head about now. The RNC Chair just revealed he’s feeling a bit “apoplectic!” Well, wouldn’t you?

Apoplectic – extremely angry; furious:
“He became apoplectic at the mere mention of the subject.” Imagine that angry character Lewis Black gave voice to in the movie “Inside Out.” Now put steaming hot hair on top of Reince Priebus whenever he is confronted with the next Donald faux pas.

And you gotta admit, taking on a Gold Star mama was not his best moment.

Many on social media and most pundits on news show are teaching us the meaning of “vituperate.”

Vituperate – to berate or rail (against) abusively; revile. Every now and then we all need to cleanse the spirit, to rail against the machine, or our mothers. But using harsh or abusive language in politics, in public, comes with a cost. It can become a meme, or a gif or the next virtual piece of venom to live on in infamy. So think twice people.

There is no privacy left, your emails and Facebook feeds are all open to ridicule and controversy. So if you can’t take the heat so to speak – well don’t just leave your job as one of Ivanka’s brother said she would do IF somebody was sexually harassing her. And that’s a very BIG “if.”

But back to apoplexy. It actually has a medical origin, those of us at a certain stage in life might remember the term “apoplectic fit?”

1610s, “involving apoplexy,” from French apoplectique (16c.), from Latin apoplecticus, from Greek apoplektikos “disabled by a stroke, crippled, struck dumb,” from apoplektos, verbal adjective of apoplessein (see apoplexy ). Meaning “showing symptoms of apoplexy” (1721) gradually shaded into “enraged, very angry.”

When we are confronted with something so disturbing, we are struck speechless, ie…

Gobsmacked – Now that’s another mostly British word meaning “utterly astounded; astonished.”

One of my favorite words to use while the Rocker was in middle school was “Alacrity.” Alacrity – cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness: We accepted the invitation with alacrity.

I thought while eating breakfast and packing up in the morning, we should try to approach the day with alacrity. And somehow, after reading Nate Silver’s latest projections on Twitter, “But just for fun here’s what an 8% Clinton lead looks like:
– Narrowly favored in GA, AZ
– UT, TX, SC competitive”  …I can do just that!   CpGenyJVIAEnLqo

 

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